The House of Representatives has begun the process of amending the constitution to take some exclusive powers and controls from the Federal Government to the states.
A bill seeking to devolve the powers by the Federal Government, which was moved by the Chief Whip, Mr Mohammed Monguno, passed the second reading at the plenary on Tuesday.
The legislation is titled ‘A Bill for An Act to Alter Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Devolve to State Some Items on the Exclusive Legislative List.’
Leading debate on the bill, Monguno listed some of the items to be moved from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List as the police, power, rail transport, mineral resources mining and public holidays.
He said the constitution of any country was subject to amendment to reflect the current realities.
The lawmaker noted that new realities had set in, in the country since the constitution was created.
Monguno stated there was an urgent need to decentralise the police “so that states can also have their own police, especially for the establishment of community police against the avalanche of security challenges that we are experiencing in the nooks and crannies of the country.”
The Majority Whip also said power and electricity generation should be taking from the federal to state.
“I see no reason power generation should be domiciled in the Exclusive Legislative List. If a state or a group of states think that they have the resources to generate power, they should be allowed to do so.”
“We all know that Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution empowers the National Assembly to make laws with respect of matters, to the exclusion of any other tier of government, included in the Exclusive Legislative List.
“The 1999 Constitution came in to force on May 29, 1999 and since then, a series of challenges have been noticed with regards to the exercised of powers vested in the National Assembly, which is seen as concentrating powers in the centre. The concentration has led to agitation for devolution of powers to the state in order to achieve true federalism.
“The bill seeks to devolve some items on the Exclusive Legislative list to the states. The implication, therefore, is that the items will be transferred from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List. In other words, both the national and the state assemblies can legislate on them.”
In his contribution, Mr Abdulkadir Abdullahi, pointed out that the federating units usually fair better in a federal system of government. He said it was due to Nigeria’s historical colonial and military rule that made its constitution to be unitary in nature.
Others who spoke, including Messrs Rotimi Agunsoye, Usoma Nkem-Abonta and Ademorin Kuye, who described the proposed amendments as long overdue.